Join the Conversation! 1
IT’S BEEN ALMOST ONE hundred days since we began to explore ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey across America. On April 11, 1912 he arrived in New York, and began to engage Americans in conversation about the issues that confronted the nation, including race, religion, gender, social justice, international peace, and America’s future. We have been telling the story here at 239 Days In America in real time, time-shifted 100 years later.
One thing we’ve learned over the past three months is that 1912 wasn’t all that different from 2012. A fiercely contested election challenged Americans to decide what kind of country they wanted to live in. Minorities and women fought for civil rights. Workers faced off against corporations. American soldiers landed on foreign shores, sparking debate about the nation’s role in the world.
To those of you who have accompanied us on the journey so far, thank you. And if you’re just joining us, welcome!
New York City 2
By Tuesday, July 16, Mahmúd observed, “His extended stay in New York had brought wonderful results among the friends.”
Each individual’s experience with him was a thread weaving in and out of the experiences each of the others was having. It was this balance, this whole, that gave the completeness of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s example. He possessed an unparalleled ability for weaving together in a fabric of love and harmony the inner private development of the mass of individuals who surged to see Him, for making them part of the new World Order. He taught them so that the new community of believers would grow and develop and become self-perpetuating after His departure.
Tuesday, July 16, 2022
‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to New York to find a large group gathered at His home, waiting for Him. At the meeting the Master shone as a lamp and burnt away the veils of superstition. One eminent woman, a doctor, asked him: ‘What is the cause of all these calamities and troubles in the world of creation?’ He replied:
“Calamities are of two kinds. One kind results from bad morals and misconduct such as falsehood, dishonesty, treachery, cruelty and the like. Surely, misdeeds bring forth evil consequences. The other kind is the result of the exigencies of the contingent world, of consummate divine law, and of universal relationships, and is that which is bound to happen, as, for instance, changes, alterations, life and death. It is impossible that a tree should not wither or that life should not end in death.”
Answering questions from the audience, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained that God is holy beyond comprehension, appearance, ascent and descent, ingress and egress, thereby correcting the erroneous notions of some philosophers and ascetics. The Master’s explanations were long and very convincing.
A wonderful meeting was held in the evening. Two very dear friends, Mr Harlan Ober and Miss Grace Robarts were married. Besides the many friends, many others were present, including a very devoted Christian minister [Howard Colby Ives]. The Master had instructed that the wedding be performed according to the law of Christianity and it was performed by the minister. After the ceremony, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rose and chanted a prayer, blessing the marriage of the two devoted believers. Congratulations were given and everyone praised the ceremony. 3
Talk at All Souls Unitarian Church, Fourth Avenue and Twentieth Street, New York, 14 July 1912 4
Consider how discord and dissension have prevailed in this great human family for thousands of years. Its members have ever been engaged in war and bloodshed. Up to the present time in history the world of humanity has neither attained nor enjoyed any measure of peace, owing to incessant conditions of hostility and strife. History is a continuous and consecutive record of warfare brought about by religious, sectarian, racial, patriotic and political causes. The world of humanity has found no rest. Mankind has always been in conflict, engaged in destroying the foundations, pillaging the properties and possessing the lands and territory of each other, especially in the earlier periods of savagery and barbarism where whole races and peoples were carried away captive by their conquerors. Who shall measure or estimate the tremendous destruction of human life resulting from this hostility and strife? What human powers and forces have been employed in the prosecution of war and applied to inhuman purposes of battle and bloodshed? In this most radiant century it has become necessary to divert these energies and utilize them in other directions, to seek the new path of fellowship and unity, to unlearn the science of war and devote supreme human forces to the blessed arts of peace. After long trial and experience we are convinced of the harmful and satanic outcomes of dissension; now we must seek after means by which the benefits of agreement and concord may be enjoyed. When such means are found, we must give them a trial.
Consider the harmful effect of discord and dissension in a family; then reflect upon the favors and blessings which descend upon that family when unity exists among its various members. What incalculable benefits and blessings would descend upon the great human family if unity and brotherhood were established! In this century when the beneficent results of unity and the ill effects of discord are so clearly apparent, the means for the attainment and accomplishment of human fellowship have appeared in the world. Bahá’u’lláh has proclaimed and provided the way by which hostility and dissension may be removed from the human world. He has left no ground or possibility for strife and disagreement.
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s care and compassion
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Menon, Jonathan. “Join the Conversation!” 239 Days in America, 16 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/16/join-the-conversation/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 110. ↩
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=5#section114 ↩
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 229-230.https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#315324576 ↩